Informing Governance Responses in a Changing Ocean

OFI Large Research Module I

Project Website: https://www.ofigovernance.net

Twenty five years after the collapse of Newfoundland and Labrador’s cod fishery, new shifts in fisheries — declining crab and shrimp quotas, hints of a modest cod stock recovery, an aging workforce, climate change, and more — present new challenges for the effective governance and management of the province’s fisheries. 

This research will investigate how recent changes to Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries will impact the future of fisheries, coastal communities, and the provincial economy. It will identify what’s required to rebuild collapsed fisheries, and identify governance solutions that will achieve safe and resilient fisheries and coastal communities.

About the research

July 2017 marked the 25th anniversary of moratoria on multiple Atlantic Canadian fisheries, including Northern cod. Those moratoria shifted fishing towards shellfish — crab and shrimp — and species that live well above the seafloor (whereas cod are groundfish that live near the ocean’s bottom).

Following the moratoria, the seafood industry in Newfoundland and Labrador adapted, and in 2012, it contributed about 3.15% to the provincial GDP ($1 billion of $31.7 billion) and employed 7.23% of the provincial labour force.

Now, a new shift in fisheries is anticipated, with cod show some signs of recovery coincident with declining numbers in shellfish and other fished species. The province’s fisheries also face other major challenges:

  • an aging workforce
  • concerns about labour shortages
  • conflict relating to resource access, governance and stock assessment science
  • climate change
Overcoming these challenges will require a transition from management to governance. Using a community-engaged, collaborative approach, this research will develop governance responses to help rebuild collapsed fisheries and threatened communities, and to achieve safe and resilient fisheries and coastal regions.

The first phase of the project will host a Taking Stock Dialogue, bringing together stakeholders from research, government, industry, and the community to. appraise changes that occurred (regulatory, industry, resources, etc.) leading up to and since the moratoria, critically assess current fisheries, and identify where research is required to fill knowledge gaps. 

The second phase of the research program includes five projects critical to informing current and future governance:

  • access to resources and markets
  • intergenerational recruitment, training and retention in small scale fisheries;
  • perceptions, values and knowledge;
  • marine safety; and
  • vulnerability and viability.

The third phase of the project will use the research results as a basis to develop and host a Getting it Right Dialogue, where stakeholders will be invited to discuss options for Newfoundland and Labrador fisheries and to develop short- and long-term governance responses. 

The research team

This project is led by Ratana Chuenpagdee, Professor of Geography at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Barbara Neis, past co-lead, is Co-Director of SafetyNet Centre for Occupational Health and Safety Research at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Team members include:

Memorial University of Newfoundland:

Alistair Bath
Mario Blaser, Canada Research Chair
Stephen Bornstein
Robert Brown
Norm Catto
Bruce Colbourne
Joel Finnis
Paul Foley, emerging researcher
Charles Mather
Lorenzo Moro, emerging researcher
Nicole Power
Gabriela Sabau
Roger White
Jack Daly, Master's student
Bryan Davis, Master's student
Gillian Mcnaughton, Master's student
Joshua Ryan, Master's student
Maria Yulmetova, Master's student
Monica Engel, PhD student
Courtenay Parlee, Postdoctoral Fellow
Emily Reid-Musson, Postdoctoral Fellow
Masoud Mahdianpari, Postdoctoral Fellow

Dalhousie University:

Claudio Aporta 


Thomas Puestow
Robert Briggs, emerging researcher

Canadian collaborators:

Alida Bundy (Fisheries and Ocean Canada)
William Cheung (University of British Columbia)
Judy Guernsey (Dalhousie University)
Prateep Nayak (University of Waterloo)
Jason Simms (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)
Rob Stephenson (Fisheries and Oceans Canada)

International collaborators:

Katia Frangoudes (LABEX MER, IUEM University of Brest)
Jahn Petter Johnsen (UiT – The Arctic University of Norway)
Maaike Knol (UiT – The Arctic University of Norway)
Grant Murray (Duke University)
Laura Kincl (Oregon State University)